Category Archives: Whiskey

Back Deck

Talk about a good investment requiring only a little bit of money and a (good) bit of time. Over the last couple of weekends, I finally talked Andy into helping me refinish our back deck! To give you an idea of how bad it looked, the main reason Andy was so hesitant to do this, is because he believed the deck was in such horrible condition that anyone who bought our house would just tear it down. Boy, has he changed his mind!

To be honest, our deck was in REALLY bad condition… Not to mention that it was the same hideous color as our house, only way worse because it is a deck.

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I wanted to really make sure this fix was done properly, so the first thing I did was borrow my sister’s huge pressure washer. Unfortunately, after hauling the huge thing from Athens to Atlanta, we realized that it was not producing any pressure. So back to Athens it went for a trip to the shop. Instead, I bought a gallon of Behr deck cleaner and poured it into the backpack sprayer we have for killing weeds. When I sprayed it all over the deck, it quickly foamed up and turned white wherever there was dirt… AKA the whole deck foamed up.


Time to scrubba dub dub! I used a long arm, strong bristle brush to enthusiastically scrub the entire deck once I had let the deck cleaner marinate for a while. I had to spray water ever few minutes to wash away the dirt and grime and reactivate the solution. IMG_0561 IMG_0552

Definitely back breaking work but it did the job! While originally blending in with the dirt and grime, it quickly became apparent that a lot of the original paint had disappeared from the boards and that some boards were in much worse shape than others.

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Luckily, nothing a couple new boards and a fresh coat of solid stain couldn’t fix! I tested the new stain on the soon to be torn out built in bench. These benches are actually no longer in code, and as we never used it anyhow, it seemed like a good idea to dispose of it. The stain is Behr Premium, Weather Proofing Wood Stain, Solid Color, in chocolate brown. I did a lot of researching before deciding on this product. I looked at the Behr Deck Over  and the Rustoleum Restore products, but both had pretty horrible reviews relating to peeling after the first year or so. The solid stain that I used goes on almost like paint, but it much less likely to peel. After just one coat my deck looked like a completely new deck!


Unfortunately, removing the bench was a little more difficult than we had imagined. The builders had decided it would be a great idea to nail the bench directly into the  fiber wood siding, creating a lot of rot behind it. Which lead us to decide to replace all of the back siding with durable Hardie Plank. But that is a post for another day, so stay tuned!


The stairs were also in need of the shoring up. The cement footing for the stairs had not been properly grounded, so overtime it has slid down the hill – taking the stairs with it! So while Andy lifted up the base of the stairs, I twisted the stairs back into place with some very graceful pulling and pushing. We temporarily shored it up with wooden slats underneath the posts, however as one side is no longer on the cement footing, we will have to box it out and re-pour cement to create a new and properly grounded base. The bottom stair had also rotted, so we added extra support and then boxed it in to hide the extra beams.

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While always more work than expected, DIY projects always make me happy! I’m not going to lie, hand painting this deck was a pain. All those posts are very tedious! And after rolling the slats, you have to come back with a paint brush and paint in between the boards. But for very little cost ($200) and a good bit of labor, we now have a deck that looks brand new and a thousand times better! Talk about curb appeal 🙂

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Spring has got to be the best time of the year. All the flowers start blooming and everything turns so green! And you get to leave the windows and doors open. Or at least I would be able to if it would ever stop raining… This year has been particularly wet, and unfortunately, we definitely lost some blooms due to this. But don’t worry, I still got some amazing pictures of my house, yard, and furry children! Also, check out some of our native Georgian plants we have accumulated from plant rescues. Gorgeous!


I can honestly say I didn’t even know this stone wall was there for a while…

It was totally covered by kudzu! Extra curb appeal! 


Finally getting some grass to grow. 


Our back yard with the retaining wall we built and native azaleas. 


Trillium Underwoodii


Trillium Pusillum


Trillium Rugelii


Trillium Stamineum 


Rhododendron catawbiense hybrid.

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Just chilling on the deck. 


Goofy face!


R. flammeum x canscens

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Store bought rhododendron – nothing special, but very pretty!


Newly laid wood chips along the side of our drive way.

Pitching those out of the back of Andy’s truck sure was fun! 


As you can see, my furry children follow me everywhere. But they make for awful cute eye candy!

Bathroom Rebuild

After two days of work and a bill of just over $800, my bathroom has officially been rebuilt!

While Andy and I are trying to keep costs down by doing as much work as possible, some things you just can’t do yourself. Like leveling a floor and installing a bath tub. I think the contractor (from Atlanta Painting Plus) was slightly surprised at how involved this project was…

First, let’s begin with the floor. As anyone who has ever owned an old house knows, the floors are simply not level. Everywhere in our house we have slight bumps and slants. Technically we have three old houses. The original house was built in 1940, added onto sometime around the 60’s, and then added onto again in the 90’s. Everything was fine until the shoddy 90’s work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I honestly think they pulled some people off the street and handed them tools.

When we first bought the house in 2013, the structural support wall for the entire back half of the house was leaning about 3 inches back with all the mortar loose between the cinder blocks. The engineer told us that he literally didn’t know how the back half of the house was still standing. So the seller of the house agreed to fix this my installing new support posts to take the weight of the house off the wall entirely. But as the seller told us, this wall had been like this for a LONG time. So it is really no surprise that our floors and walls are not level – not even close.

Our contractor was able to fix the major hump in the bathroom floor by leveling one side of the bathroom by adding a new joist higher than the old one. The other slant, going the other way on the other half the bathroom was not fixable without jacking up the house and repairing all the floors, including the kitchen. This is most likely the damage caused by the structural wall failure. Obviously, we were not going to do this. Definitely not worth the large investment this would cost. Besides, what’s an old house without some character, right?!

Here is the floor with just the new plywood installed after the old (shitty) bathtub had been removed and the joist replaced.

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Of course when am I ever able to take a picture without my fur babies showing up?

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And here is the junk pile from the old floor…

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Day two was spent installing the bathtub. Nothing can ever be standard, am I correct? The space we had for our bathtub was 59″ in length… The standard bathtub is 60″. Luckily, I had already prepared the contractor for this and he had confirmed that they would be able to shave back the studs in order to fit the 60″ tub. Sounds like a blast – better them than me! But they did a great job, and my bathtub is amazing!! It is super deep and long enough for me to actually stretch my legs out – and for those of you who don’t know me, I have REALLY long legs. I’m almost 5’11 with disproportionately long legs to be precise (can you say economy comfort?). So this is a truly amazing feat.

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Next up – tiling! Stay tuned 🙂

Andy’s Closet

Andy and I had a very productive weekend and I couldn’t be more excited to share what we accomplished!

Our house is technically a three bedroom two bath house. However, one of the bedrooms is very small and attached to our bedroom with a double door. It would make a perfect nursery, but don’t get too excited, because unfortunately I doubt it will ever be used as such while we live there!

When we first moved in, I immediately took out the double doors. There was simply not enough room for two doors to swing open. We decided to use this room as our all-purpose room primarily functioning as an office/Andy’s closet. Because let’s face it – there was no way I was sharing my closet!

As usual, I forgot to take a complete before picture, but I at least remembered to take one before I got too far along… This is Andy’s “closet” after all of his hanging clothes had been removed.

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As you can see, this thing was nasty. Hundreds of t-shirts were haphazardly piled on top of a white shelf, random (and old) paraphernalia was tucked into every little nook and cranny shelf that was hidden behind the walls, and before I removed them, shirts and pants were hanging in total disarray. Basically, it was a disaster zone and I am quite impressed that Andy even managed to find a complete work outfit every day.

My first task was to clear the area. So I removed all of the hanging clothes and belts, and then forced Andy to go through all of his t-shirts with me. In the end we managed to fill 2 big trash bags! Pretty impressive how many shirts he had managed to hoard that did not even fit him anymore. He still had high school swim shirts! This is what our room looked like while we were completing our early spring cleaning.


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And as usual, our two furry children refused to be left out of all the fun… This is about as close as they get to each other folks.

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After the cleansing process was over, I decided the ugly grey walls inside the closet space needed to go.

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I decided to go with a clean white paint, something that would keep the clutter-y look to a minimum. Luckily, we had a can of white paint in the basement that I figured would do the trick. Money saved! Even though paint always has primer in it now, I went ahead and used a can of previously purchased primer to lighten the entire area. I figured this was going to be a multiple layer paint job, and I didn’t want to have to purchase more paint!

photo 1 (2)I definitely made the right decision, because I came down to the wire with paint – but thankfully, I got it done and the closet space looked so much better!

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I had thought long and hard about the best way to organize this space. The space itself is not much of a closet, so I wanted to go ahead and install a closet system. but have y’all ever looked up the closet systems at places like IKEA or The Container Store?!? These run upwards of $1000. Way above my max price for this project! And if those were too expensive, a custom closet would be even further out of reach. Andy and I discussed building the closet ourselves, but Andy was working on a basement project (too be posted soon) and frankly, as an engineer and lawyer, we have very little spare time to build, so custom built projects end up taking us weeks. This was a project I wanted to get done in a day or two.

So to Home Depot I go! And I think I came back with a very good alternative…

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While maybe not the cheapest option, at $150 dollars, this unit was way more in my price range. I also purchased two drawers to install for $50 each. Since I didn’t have to purchase any paint, my total costs for this project totaled just over $275 with taxes. And I happily used the Home Depot gift card my dad gave for Christmas, bringing the out of pocket expenses to just over $100. Not bad! Thanks Dad!

Even though this is Andy’s closet, this was my project, so I tackled almost everything alone. While my arms were still recovering from all the painting I attempted to rip into the Closetmaid package. Easier said then done. Opening this box was by far the hardest part of this entire build! But my tenacity finally won out. And while it may not have been pretty… who cares.

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After that, the building was relatively easy. I wish the boards had been labeled with stickers, but it was not too difficult to figure out what was what. I quickly built the main structure, and with Andy’s help we got both pieces mounted in the correct position and attached to the wall stud. These things aren’t going anywhere. We hung three rods, two on the left and one on the right. And even though we weren’t quite done, Andy then proceeded to stuff the closet full of his clothes again. I think I now understand why it was so messy in the first place…

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But regardless, already looking a lot better than it did!

Sunday morning I built both drawers while Andy attached the sliders to the inside of the bottom shelf. We added the trim work, one shelf to the bottom, and the drawers. As you can see in the picture above, Woody’s kennel has been in the middle of the room since we got him, so I wanted to rearrange to find a better place for him. After a much needed pickup and thorough cleaning, I think we finally have this room looking good! While we were missing two screws, I highly recommend this Closetmaid unit. It is sturdy, easy to build, and looks great! Check out the finished product…

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That is what I call a weekend well spent! And I burned lots of calories along the way 😉

Kitchen Shelf

It’s finally done! This has by far been one of the biggest projects we’ve taken on and I’m so excited that it is finally done and looking amazing!

As you may remember from my last post (Kitchen Wall), this is what our kitchen looked like when we first moved in… cracked wainscoting and a weird granite table that was awkward and an inadequate use of the space.


So, Andy and I decided to completely renovate this area and design a shelf that would fit perfectly – using the space more efficiently by adding shelving and opening up the kitchen.

My inspiration for this project came from Ana-White Easy Kitchen Island Plans. While our kitchen is not designed in a way applicable to a kitchen island, I decided that this island could be modified to fit the space perfectly and serve as a type of shelf.

So Andy and I hit the drawing board.


We wanted to design a shelf that was the exact length of the window but with a very narrow depth to free up space in the kitchen.

We went to Home Depot to get the pine for the body of the table. We got the finished wood so we would have to only do minimal sanding and prepping. Then we went to Hardwoods Incorporated. Man this was by far my favorite part. So many different varieties of hardwood to choose from (they even had Zebrawood)! I could have stayed there all day! I eventually settled on a beautiful 2 1/2 inch thick piece of Red Oak for the top.

Let the building begin! This was a very drawn out and tediously slow process for us. Not only did we have very limited time to work on it, Andy and I are both perfectionists and newbies to the DIY building game.


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Our first visual of what the finished product would look like…

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Lots of painting and sanding…


And finally, the finishing touches. The Red Oak was slightly warped, so Andy decided to buy an electric planer to ensure an even and smooth surface. We used Shellac to finish and protect the wood.

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Once we got to this point, we needed to go ahead and completely finish the wall so we could put everything in place. We filled the gap under the window with wood and the gap between the wall and tile with Great Stuff Gaps and Cracks Insulating Foam Sealant to ensure adequate insulation and to keep the roaches out… I HATE roaches. After that we installed the molding and wa la! Imperfections fixed! I also painted the entire window frame in order to spruce that up some.

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AND FINALLY! What you have all been waiting for (OK, maybe only me and Andy), the shelf has been finished and is finally in place! Wow this was a long process, but I think the results were totally worth it.

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And because Whiskey Boo Boo couldn’t be left out…

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Another successful DIY project!



Whiskey Boo Boo

In case anyone was wondering how the blue-eyed kitten is handling our new family addition, I thought I would write a brief update.

Whiskey manages to walk as slowly and quietly as possible and as far away from Woody as she possibly can. So far, she has only slapped him once… remarkable restraint considering the joy he gets from prancing after her every chance he gets.

I fear there is much more hissing to come, but at least Woody still has both of his eyes and Boo Boo still sleeps beside my head every night. It’s the small things in life.